REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/26/2006
I think I hitched my wagon to the wrong train. Or the wrong star. Or whatever the saying is.
Anthology 3 essentially covers material from The White Album up to Abbey Road and Let It Be. While some of their best material came from those albums, the work-in-progress feel is more evident here and is not quite the revelation one might except. Because it's the Beatles, Anthology 3 is brilliant on occasion, fascinating a few times, but not what one might expect.
For all intents and purpose, the first disc for Anthology 3 could be Anthology 3..Naked. Much of the material is presented in a stripped-down acoustic fashion. Most of those particular tracks come from The White Album sessions and some are fairly close to their studio versions, though a couple of surprises like an acoustic “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” are tossed in, and it is just as beautifully rendered. A fair amount of Abbey Road songs were created during this particular time as well, likc “Mean Mr. Mustard” and “Polythene Pam.”
To hear “Helter Skelter” as a blues workout as opposed to proto-punk is another highlight that completely changes one's image of the classic. “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” takes on a folkish/South American sound and “The End,” which fittingly closes out Anthology 3 as it did Abbey Road, starts off with longer guitar solos from the boys that rock just a little bit harder. Also of note is the a cappella “Because,” a stunning example of the underrated harmonies of the band.
There a few previously unreleased tracks present on Anthology 3, but nothing to write home about. It is nice to hear George present “All Things Must Pass,” but tunes like “Ain’t She Sweet” and “What's The New Mary Jane” just don't hold up to the classics.
Much of the second disc and some of the first disc do not deviate much from their finished versions, such as “Come Together,” which is practially the same performance. At this point, the Beatles weren’t necessarily recording as a group anymore, and that stratification is easy to spot on this collection.
Somehow I get the feeling that Anthology 2 or 1 would be a much more revealing listen as to the approach the Beatles took in the studio, especially during the Revolver years. The main flaw is that the time period covered here shows a time where the band was not only disintegrating but had cut back their studio time, which makes this two-disc set rather unnecessary and less than interesting for most of its running length. Still, because it is the Beatles, there is enough to make it worth hearing at least once.